Vajra body or Golden armor? Martial arts, religion and truth in history

Sifu David Ross

The greatest challenge to the historian is to present the truth in a clear, digestible form to even the novice, no matter how complex the narrative. The history of Chinese martial arts in particular presents us with many challenges; there are no absolutes here. We want to avoid popular fictions about martial arts originating in either Buddhist or Daoist monasteries, yet we must still examine how they were practiced by those individuals and how that practice affected the traditions as a whole. We cannot forever link martial arts with religious sectarian movements or secret societies; we have already seen and will see more examples quit to the contrary. Yet we must never forget that martial arts are not practiced in a vacuum and they are always subject to the society they exist within and the beliefs of those that practice them.

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Discussion of the “Armor of Golden Bell” (Jin Zhong…

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